Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) was named an Officer in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters), the second of three grades recognized in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded to distinguished artists who have made significant contributions to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. Previously a Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, this promotion to Officer recognizes MTT’s continued contributions to global culture and the vast impact he has had during his 25 years as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony.

By promoting Michael Tilson Thomas to the rank of Officer in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France celebrates an immense artist, unanimously recognized by the Parisian public, who worked hard to promote French music composers in the United States.  As a universal language, music brings people together and MTT’s work shows the essential role of culture in the Franco-American friendship.” said Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Consul General of France in San Francisco during an intimate ceremony with London Breed, the Mayor of San Francisco.

MTT has frequently visited and guest conducted the major French orchestras and has regularly appeared at the premier French concert halls both on tour with the San Francisco Symphony and with the London Symphony Orchestra, among others.

He was scheduled to lead the San Francisco Symphony on tour in Lyon and Paris in April 2020; those performances were unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19. MTT’s most recent appearance in France was conducting Orchestre de Paris, which he will return to conduct again in June 2021.

Merci MTT

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